Thursday, 23 March 2017

What a day!

About a week ago, our 21 year old cat Max was found to have fleas.  We have had him all this time and he has never had fleas before.  Spraying him has not resolved the problem, so we need to treat the whole house for fleas and flea eggs, not something I am looking forward to.  Job one - off to the pet shop for some spray and a flea collar.

On my return from the pet shop, Rosie informs me that there is sewage leaking from the manhole area across our boundary with our neighbours.  OK - priorities change and I decide to rod the drains from our side.  Bang, there is an obstruction in the drains at 10 rods long.  Need to go next door.
The culprit was a short plank of wood in the drains?  With a bit of effort and a pavement cleaning tool with a spike on the end, we managed to lift the wood, free the blockage, and flush out the problem. Checked the next house along and all was well.  The jam up was exacerbated by masses of face wipes in the sewer from further back up the run.
Rods and tools washed and disinfected, now back to the cat problem.

Most of the rooms had been vacuumed and cleaned by Rosie to lift flea eggs whilst I was out in the garden.  We sprayed as many rooms as we could with a preparation that stops the development of flea eggs and kills fleas.  Then it was into the bathroom to bath Max.  This removed a lot of flea crud and cleared him of fleas.  Out with the hair dryer and dry the cat.  He helped a bit by licking his vital bits to restore the smell of cat to his fur.  Time for a cuppa.
I am not used to this level of work any more.  Still, We have a fine bottle Merlot as a thank you from our neighbours and a very clean house and cat.  Perhaps this calls for a treat of fish and chips for dinner.....

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Westport Lake

Today was a bright and sunny day it not a little cool.  Prior to a brief shopping trip we ventured to Westport Lake for an invigorating walk.  The wind was quite brisk.  There is always something of interest to see at this Staffordshire Wildlife Trust site.
 Duck on a hedge
 Pigeon having a stretch
 Mute Swan in flight
A pair of Swans.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Signs of Spring

 Frogs are spawning in the pond
 This is the first sign of spring in our garden.
 Max is now wanting to prowl around his estate as the days get warmer. At 21 he is an old cat, but he still rules the garden.
The other up and coming treat is the growth of Rhubarb - something to look forward to in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

About Birds

Yesterday we strolled around the lake at Trentham and saw a good number of birds.  Here are 10 of the best.
 Aggressive male mute swan.
 A pair of young black swans with a pair of mallards.
 Coot on nest.
 Mute swans nest making near the footpath.
 An egret - visits every year now.
 One of the cormorants atop the tree with white branches.
 Nuthatch by the cafe.
 Chaffinch letting the world pass by.
 Long tailed tit.
And finally a passing buzzard.
My stress level is now at minimum.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


During a walk around Westport Lake we spotter a lone Merganser on the water.  This is an unusual bird at this location.
Mergansers are fish eaters, usually seen on rivers and occasionally lakes.  They are often in small groups and can hunt co-operatively to catch small fish.
This appears to be a young bird which has settled here for a while.  The fish in the lake will support Great Crested Grebes and the occasional Cormorant, so a Merganser should be good to feed here.
This one was clearly staking a claim, giving other small water birds an aggressive snap if they came too close.

Friday, 10 February 2017

North Ronaldsay

The weather forecast for today was cold with possibilities of snow.  True to its word, the temperature fell to 1.5 degrees C and we have had our first flurries of snow.  After a quick trip to the shops I decided to bake bread and check out my latest simulator project.
North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys has a custom built airport to support its local community. The terminus is a small hut in a farmyard and the runways are made of compacted hardcore or grass.
The simulation I am working on is for X-Plane 11.  I already have a model of this airport made for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX), but all of the elements need remaking for this new simulator.
The main elements of the airfield are made and working well.  I have had to exclude the resident airfield as it was far more sophisticated than the real thing.
The Ald Kirk, which is just off of one of the runway approaches was modelled using the windows from Langer Hall Church in Nottinghamshire.  The window elements of both churches are very similar.
The scenery mask for the church is quite simple.  It incorporates a large off white square on each side of the tower to make it more visible to aircraft on approach and takeoff.  
The Church model was created using SketchUp 2015 and saved as an X-Plane .obj file ready to load into the flight simulator.
I just need to add a few more local houses and the old light tower on the north shore before I put the finished airport on line.

Sunday, 5 February 2017


 This morning as I went to get the car out of our garage, I noticed a dark column of smoke emanating from across the City and being blown overhead.  There was the recognisable acrid smell of burning rubber.
On the local radio, the explanation was that a plastic re-cycling plant at Milton was burning and several fire appliances were in attendance.  The advice was for locals to keep their windows and doors closed throughout the day.
 By 10 am we were at the RSPB reserve at Coombes Valley near Cheddleton.  This site is about 12 miles away from the fire at Milton (as the crow flies) and the smoke cloud is clearly visible, rising well over 1000 feet.
 By 12:30 the dark cloud of smoke was becoming more like a column of steam.  It was clear that the fire was coming under control, or the fuel was burned away to a large extent.
By mid afternoon we were back home and the fire was less prevalent in the atmosphere.  The smell of the chemicals was absent and a sign of relief was present in the neighbourhood.

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